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The 2020-21 New York Jets season is basically over. Any chance at the playoffs is out of reach, the quarterback situation remains unsolved, and with five games left in the season, they have no wins. It’s safe to say, this season has been a nightmare.
At the helm of all of this is head coach Adam Gase, who not only guided this sinking ship, but further regressed the potential of quarterback Sam Darnold. With an abysmal 7-20 record since joining New York (30-45 overall) the chances of Gase’s dismissal are growing by the day. Add to it that current general manager Joe Douglas had nothing to do with his hiring and Gase is doomed.
With Gase fired and presumably taking an offensive coordinator job, who becomes the next coach of the New York Jets? With a rookie quarterback (Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence) more than likely coming into the fold, whoever they get will become crucial to not only his development but also his staying power in the league. Simply put, they can’t afford to screw this one up.
The following is a list of ten potential coaches New York should consider. They’re not ranked in specific order, and one is not higher than the other. These are just ten people who the team should consider for the job:
10. Gregg Williams – Defensive Coordinator of the New York Jets
Gregg Williams may be one of the most controversial coaches in the NFL, however he’s also shown that he deserves a second chance at being a head coach. His role in the New Orleans Saints’ bounty scandal is well documented, but it hasn’t stopped him from getting several defensive coordinator jobs since. It even earned him an interim head coach job with the Cleveland Browns where he went 5-3.
Many fans will point to how New York’s pass defense has been atrocious, but one look at his time in Cleveland shows that’s been a problem. His defenses may have struggled against the pass but when he took over, the team looked more disciplined and on the same page. He is a better head coach than defensive coordinator, and should be given a real second shot.
9. Eric Bieniemy – Offensive Coordinator of the Kansas City Chiefs
Last year, every team with a head coaching vacancy chose to pass on Bieniemy, despite his work with Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes. While head coach Andy Reid has called a majority of their plays, all of his offensive coordinators (Bienemy, Matt Nagy, and Doug Pederson) have worked with their quarterback, whether it was Mahomes or his predecessor Alex Smith and it has lead them to success. That said, there is no reason he shouldn’t be a head coach.
With Lawrence more than likely wearing white and Green next year, he’s going to need a coach who knows how to communicate well with him and develop him. With players like Mahomes, Cincinnati Bengals’ quarterback Joe Burrow and Miami Dolphins’ quarterback Tua Tagovailoa having taken front and center of their teams respective offenses, Lawrence may be expected to do the same. If Bieniemy can work some of the same magic he did in Kansas City, then he may be the best New York Jets’ quarterback in over a decade.
8. Leslie Frazier – Defensive Coordinator of the Buffalo Bills
Nobody wants to hire a guy from a rival team, but sometimes it’s necessary to at least consider them as an option. While offensive coordinator Brian DaBoll could be an attractive option due to his work with Buffalo quarterback Josh Allen, Frazier is sometimes overlooked. As good as the offense has been, his defenses when healthy have been just as effective, if not more so.
However, it’s not what he offers on the field, as much as what he offers off of it: culture. While his four year tenure as the Minnesota Vikings’ head coach isn’t much to write home about, stops in Indianapolis, Baltimore, and the current Buffalo team have given him a chance to see how to build a winning culture. While on the field production is great, installation of locker room and winning cultures are becoming a must have trait for any head coach.
7. Pat Fitzgerald – Head Coach of Northwestern University
Even though there’s a report out that Fitzgerald would only consider leaving Northwestern for the Chicago Bear job, he would be a better fit in New York. General manager Joe Douglas has made several connections over 14 years as a scout for the Baltimore Ravens and a year as Chicago Bears’ director of college scouting at universities. With how respected Fitzgerald is, it would be a great match.
There’s also struggles for college coaches because adapting their systems to pros takes a year or two. It’s not to say that it’s a poor fit, rather a growing pain with system installation. As seen with Arizona head coach Kliff Kingsbury and Carolina head coach Matt Rhule, it can work. However if after time it doesn’t, like Nick Saban or Chip Kelly, then they’ll have to make a move.
6. Arthur Smith – Offensive Coordinator of the Tennessee Titans
Part of building a team is focusing on what the team’s strengths are. One strength that New York has had but never seems to capitalize on is it’s running game. Whether it’s been using their running backs wrong or just not using them, they’ve found ways to waste their backs’ talents.
Enter Arthur Smith, who since taking over for Matt LaFleur, has taken Tennessee’s offense has been elevated to a whole new level. Smith is very similar to Cleveland’s Kevin Stefanski, who spent a little more than a decade under several coaches on the same team. Considering the turnaround in Cleveland, it could work out for New York this time.
5. John Fox – Former NFL Head Coach
If Douglas is serious about kick starting this team for success, Fox may be the guy for the job. Having made the playoffs seven times in his 16 year career, he’s found ways to get young teams into the playoffs and even pull off upsets better than some other veteran coaches. His experience with the Carolina Panthers shows he can take a team to the next level early.
There are downsides with Fox. First, he’s 65 years old. He would be the second oldest current head coach, only behind Houston Texans’ interim head coach Romeo Crennel. Fox could have a few years left, but it would be a short term fix.
The other issue is, he’s very hot and cold. Fox can get you to the Super Bowl, but that’s on a good year. On a bad year, his team may have questions and some hiring remorse. It’s a risk, but there are rewards.
4. Jim Caldwell – Assistant Head Coach and Quarterbacks Coach of the Miami Dolphins
Most coaches aren’t given a third chance, however most coaches who get fired don’t finish with a winning percentage over .500. Somehow though, the Detroit Lions thought firing Caldwell in favor Matt Patricia (who was recently fired by the team) was a good idea. Their loss should be the Jets gain.
Given how good both veteran quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick and rookie Tua Tagovailoa have looked, as well as how strong Matt Stafford has looked under center, Caldwell may be a great fit for them. His biggest hurdle is clearing the third coach tag, but that could be overlooked considering that he’s shown he can coach at this level.
3. Dennis Allen – Defensive Coordinator of the New Orleans Saints
Allen was once a head coach for the Las Vegas Raiders, in a time where coaching talent fell into a black hole: that’s not a pun, that’s accurate. He was last a head coach in 2014, right after then owner Al Davis died. At the time, Reggie McKenzie took over general manager duties and he didn’t help the team at all.
Since being fired, Allen has gone on to create a highly successful defense with the New Orleans Saints, meriting him another chance. Prior to this season, New Orleans had a top 10 defense the last four years, and they’re close to having a fifth one this year. As much as New York should focus on offense, they’ve had some luck with defensive coordinators like Rex Ryan and Herm Edwards.
2. Brent Venables – Defensive Coordinator of the Clemson Tigers
New York fans would be crying for them to hire Dabo Swinney, however he may choose to stay at Clemson. If they can’t get the big guy, they can always go for one of his products and one of the best products under Swinney has been the defense.
Venables has created some amazing defenses since taking over and helped build up some amazing prospects. If he can turn talented high school players into top NFL prospects, then imagine what he could do with top NFL prospects at the pro level. You don’t win in the NFL without a good defense, and he could create a defense that the league has yet to see.
Given the success of Arizona Cardinals’ head coach Kliff Kingsbury, the college coordinator market for the NFL should open up. If it does, Venables should top that list.
1. Scott Turner – Offensive Coordinator of the Washington Football Team
Turner is in his first year as offensive coordinator of Washington. However in a unique trend, young coaches like that are being hired. Coaches like Pittsburgh’s Mike Tomlin, Los Angeles Rams’ Sean McVay, Cleveland’s Kevin Stefanski, etc have all left after being a coordinator less than four years and have found success. Why can’t Norv Turner’s son do the same?
Like any young coach, the team will have to be patient and work with him, but if done right, they’d be set for years. Given he’s worked with quarterbacks like Teddy Bridgewater and Cam Newton, he may be a great with a rookie quarterback coming in. It’s not the sexiest name or the most luxurious name, but sometimes the best coaches aren’t.